2
$\begingroup$

The LAGEOS satellites have plaques that try to explain what they are without using any words or decimal numbers or similar 'current' concepts.

To me, this suggests we expect the satellites to last their full lifetime, as the technology to find them in space will surely exist in much shorter time-scales (a few thousand if not hundreds of years, when we might expect English to still be understood in some way).

But when they de-orbit I'd expect them to either burn up or be destroyed when when they impacted the earth's surface.

So: am I wrong assuming that we think they'll last their full lifetime, or am I wrong assuming that they'll be destroyed on impact?

Edit: the lifetime of these satellites is expected to be around 8m years, but for the purposes of this question lets assume that structure of the earth, atmosphere and solar system is pretty similar to now.

$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This answer says that the orbital lifetime of LAGEOS is projected to be 8 million years. Are you asking what will happen after 8 million years? $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 19 '16 at 15:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage yes - is that so crazy? See edit, let's ignore questions about whether the earth actually exists in its current form. $\endgroup$ – stripybadger May 19 '16 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ That's fine, I just wanted to be sure you were aware of that. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 19 '16 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage I read the question as, when the LAGEOS satellites finally do deorbit, do we expect them to survive reentry and landing sufficiently intact that the markings on the plaques will remain discernable to a possible future civilization coming across the remains of the satellites. $\endgroup$ – a CVn May 19 '16 at 15:53
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble That's what I was thinking as well: orbital retrieval, as opposed to crash site retrieval. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 19 '16 at 16:52
1
$\begingroup$

The satellite is made from aluminum and brass, so I expect it will be burned up in the atmosphere when it reenters. The only chance it has of being read is if someone goes and picks it up, or at least gets a really big telescope.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ The plaque is inside the probe. I'm interested in what kind of telescope you're using to read it. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage May 19 '16 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Well, micrometeors might destroy part of it, but leave the plaque intact? $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto May 19 '16 at 18:00
0
$\begingroup$

This video had been posted recently by NASA's Marshall Center, I'm posting this just as supplementary information.

A few screenshots:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.